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Thursday, 26 April, 2001, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
Hindi makeover for Yes Minister
Minister Singh and advisers
Minister Singh and advisers discuss matters of state
The first episode of an Indian version of hit 1980s television series Yes Minister was broadcast on Thursday.

Ji Mantriji stars Indian actors and has been produced in Delhi in collaboration with BBC Worldwide.

It faithfully follows the original - which starred Sir Nigel Hawthorne and the late Paul Eddington - merely adapting the circumstances to Indian surroundings.

"The things that the British serial looks at - why the system never changes and nothing ever happens - all that is the same here, in fact it's exaggerated," said producer Smeeta Chakrabarti.


Its closely-observed portrayal of what goes on in the corridors of power has given me hours of pure joy

Mrs Thatcher on Yes Minister

References to Russia in the UK version have been changed to Pakistan, cricket becomes football and the references to the EEC have been exchanged for the Commonwealth.

Flappable

New acronyms replace the dismissive TPLC (tin pot little countries) of the calculating advisor Sir Humphrey - played by Hawthorne in the original.

The minister character in the original - Jim Hacker, has been renamed Suryaprakash Singh and is played by the well-known Indian actor Farooque Sheikh.

Derek Fowlds, Paul Eddington and Nigel Hawthorne
The way they were - Yes Prime Minister
Sir Humphrey is now called Rajnath Mathur and is played by Jayant Kripalani.

The idea behind Yes Minister was to expose the struggle between senior politicians and the bureaucracy - mostly it was the flappable minister who was at the receiving end of attempts to outwit him.

Mrs Thatcher was a fan. She said of the show: "Its closely-observed portrayal of what goes on in the corridors of power has given me hours of pure joy."

All the political spin and bureaucratic bungling of the original is imbued with Indian colour in Ji Mantriji.

Satire

Sir Anthony Jay, one of the creators of the original, said there was a universal appeal to the antics of bureaucracy.

"Indians do have a love of bureaucracy which isn't necessarily shared by the citizens they have to deal with," he said.

"And so do an awful lot of other countries."

Indian commentators have already queried the authenticity of keeping the Indian version so close to the original.

One journalist wrote: "Given the Indian political parameters, the bureaucrat is always at the mercy of the politician who keeps transferring him at will."

RaJayant Kripalani
Sir Humphrey is now Rajnath Mathur
One of the stars of the show, Farookh Sheikh, said he wished it had gone further.

"I do feel the Indian political arena lends itself to satire more than most other countries and particularly countries in the west," he said.

Yes Minister was very popular in India when it was shown in English.

This is a unique project for the BBC as it does not usually adapt its series for regional markets.

"This is the first time BBC Worldwide has completely recreated a series for the Indian market or anywhere else in the world," said Mark Young, managing director of the India region for BBC Worldwide.

Rupert Murdoch's Star Plus channel licensed the series for pan-Asia transmission.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Higham
"The minister is just as pompous"
Yes Minister
Watch a clip from the Indian version
BBC Bombay correspondent Sanjeev Srivastava
"The English version was already a big hit in India"
Programme creator Sir Anthony Jay
"I think it ought to go quite well"
See also:

24 Feb 99 | Entertainment
Knighthood for Sir Humphrey
12 Mar 00 | Business
Murdoch eyes up Indian IT firms
05 Dec 00 | South Asia
Game show turn off for Indians
14 Mar 00 | South Asia
Indian production base for Murdoch
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